There lives look flashy, they seem to have the best of houses, flashiest of cars, and everything that money can buy. However, deep down inside, some of these actors know how fickle fame and money can be. Their fortunes can quickly change directions with a string of flops or if they take some wrong decisions (joining politics and so on).
Here we take a look at some of our Bollywood celebrities who almost went broke after touching dizzying heights in life.
I know it sounds difficult to believe this, but the Big B did go through a major financial crisis in early 2000 due to failing of his company ABCL. Its said that he used to avoid meeting a lot of people (whom he knew) fearing that they would ask for their money which they had lent to ABCL. Amitabh Bachchan wrote :“In the year 2000, when the entire world was celebrating the new century, I was celebrating my disastrous fortune. There were no films, no money, no company, a million legal cases against and the tax authorities had put notice of recovery on my home.” But his fortunes changed with the television show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ and his movie Mohabbatein.
The biggest showman of the industry, the legendary Raj Kapoor almost went bankrupt after the failure of his ambitious movie ‘Mera Naam Joker’. Its surprising that many people like to watch the movie on television now, but when it was released not many turned up to see the film in theatres. Raj Kapoor later made a comeback with Bobby. It’s said that many actors and technicians who worked in ‘Bobby’ didn’t charge even a single penny. Good things indeed happen to good people.
Jackie Shroff and Anil Kapoor where almost neck-to-neck at one time in their film career. They have even worked together in several films together, but then good fortune started deserting Jackie Shroff who almost went broke in 2008, after his career hit rock-bottom. Its said that he had to sell a flat to repay the loan he took from filmmaker Sajid Nadiadwala.
He’s best remembered for his character in ‘Sholay’, and although AK Hangal had worked in several Bollywood films, he faced a major financial crisis as he approached old age. During his last years, he was unable to pay even his medical bills, despite help from the film fraternity. AK Hangal died in 2012.
Although actors today are financially more savvy and invest in various avenues, back in the old days, it wasn’t the case. The saddest case is that of Bhagwan Abaji Pandav, better known as Bhagwan or Bhagwan Dada. An ace comic actor, his dance steps were later copied by the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, and even Mithun Chakraborty. His song ‘Bholi surat dil ke khote, naam bade aur darshan chhote’ is popular even today and almost everybody knows the dance steps, made famous by Bhagwan Dada.
A string of flops (most of them produced by himself) towards the later part of his career made Bhagwan-da lose a lot of money. His sea-facing Juhu bungalow with 25 rooms along with his fleet of seven cars (one for each day of the week) had to be sold. His family moved to a two-room set in a chawl at Dadar where he spent his last days. The Cine Artistes’ Association and the Indian Motion Picture producers’ Association did pay him Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000, respectively, for the past few years.
In Hollywood, there are many more examples where celebrities have gone broke, most of them never recovered from it.
- When Michael Jackson passed away in 2009, reports surfaced that the iconic popstar was in debt of $285 million.
- Pamela Anderson was reportedly in a financial crisis after she owed $1.1 million in taxes and debts. She had to sell her Malibu house to stay afloat.
- Lindsay Lohan’s lavish lifestyle and her drug addiction forced her into bankruptcy. Also, the lack of work left her with a huge debt and not enough money to even pay the rent.
- The Gossip Girl star Kelly Rutherford filed for bankruptcy in 2013 thanks to her bitter custody battle with ex-husband Daniel Giersch. It was said that her debt was over $2 million.
- Anna Nicole Smith had to file for bankruptcy in 1995 after the death of her second husband, oil tycon J. Howard Marshall. Smith died of a prescription drug overdose in 2007.
- Burt Reynolds declared himself bankrupt in 1996 with $11.2 million in debts. His bad investments in two restaurant chains in the late 80s and 90’s as well as a falling-off in his box-office clout were major factors behind him being broke.
- Donald Trump filed for corporate bankruptcy four times between 1991 and 2009. However, he has never filed for personal bankruptcy.
- One of the most loved child actors of Hollywood, Gary Coleman declared himself bankrupt in 1999 with a debt of $72,000. Later on, he also worked as a security guard to earn his living.
- Larry King was arrested in 1971 and accused of stealing from business partner Louis Wolfson. He lost his job as a Miami radio host and fell further into debt, eventually declaring bankruptcy in 1978. Few years later, he started working with CNN and went on to become the legend that he is.
- MC Hammer filed for bankruptcy in 1996 after he did not have the funds to sustain his elaborate lifestyle. Hammer bounced back and created his own search engine, called WireDoo.
- Mike Tyson’s over-the-top expenses eventually caught up to him in 2003. He filed for bankruptcy as he had to pay millions of dollars to the financial institutions and his ex-wife, Monica Turner.
- Oscar Wilde, the famous author and playwright, went bankrupt in 1895 after he was charged with gross indecency by Queensberry. His estate was liquidated as well, and by the time he went to jail, he had lost nearly everything.
- Stan Lee, the co-creator of the iconic Marvel comics universe, had to file for bankruptcy after the failure of Stan Lee Media, a web start-up founded by Lee and business partner Peter F. Paul, in 2000.
- American singer Tony Braxton had to file for bankruptcy twice, in 1998 and 2010 after being in big debts.
- Not many know that Vince McMahon, the chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment had some bad bets that pushed him into bankruptcy.
- Walt Disney was a struggling animator in 1923 who lived in his office at Laugh-O-Gram Studio, which eventually declared bankruptcy. However, he then gave his career another shot and rest is history.
- In 1990, IRS seized the assets of country music legend Willie Nelson, claiming he owed $32 million in unpaid taxes. Though the figure was negotiated down, but the debt pushed the singing legend into bankruptcy.